Investigation of Poor Academic Achievement in Children with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Hinton, V. J.; De Vivo, D. C.; Fee, R.; Goldstein, E.; Stern, Yaakov

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a neurogenetic developmental disorder that presents with progressive muscular weakness. It is caused by a mutation in a gene that results in the absence of specific products that normally localize to muscle cells and the central nervous system (CNS). The majority of affected individuals have IQs within the normal range, generally with lower verbal than performance IQ scores. Prior work has demonstrated selective deficits on tests of verbal span and immediate memory. For the current study, 26 boys with DMD (and normal intellectual function) and their unaffected siblings were evaluated. Paired comparisons demonstrated that the children with DMD had significantly poorer academic achievement scores than their siblings, even though their vocabulary levels and home and educational environments were comparable. Children with DMD also had more behavioral concerns, physical disabilities, and poorer verbal memory spans. Linear regression indicated that behavioral concerns, executive function, and physical disability did not contribute substantially to academic performance, whereas performance on verbal span did. DMD presents with a selective developmental aberration in verbal span that has wide-ranging consequences on learning skills.



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Learning Disabilities Research and Practice

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February 11, 2022